It’s certainly easy to bash the Lib Dems, their broken promises and their readiness to get into bed with the Tories. But Labour needs to go further than simply criticising them, if we are to win the next election.
It is certainly true that the Lib Dems haven’t covered themselves in glory so far. They have completely failed to make their mark in government and the coalition is looking increasingly one-sided, with the Lib Dems as the weak submissive partner. They have not found their voice and have not been robust enough in reigning in the Tories’ reckless spending cuts.
But as the Liberals have found, it’s one thing to bash the incumbent, and quite another to offer a coherent and credible alternative. While enjoying watching them roasting on the spit at their conference, my thoughts are on the Labour conference in Liverpool next week.
We need to dramatically up our game. We need to understand why so many voters turned away from us at the last election. We need to correct our mistakes and re-engage with the electorate. And most importantly, we need to be back where we belong, at the cutting edge of politics, setting out new and radical ideas that will change the country for the better.
John Denham was absolutely right when he said that the Lib Dems will be judged by their actions and not their words. But come next election, if wavering voters are deciding where to place their crosses, there needs to be a strong, progressive alternative.